From the Washington Post:

"Iraq has failed to meet all but three of 18 congressionally mandated benchmarks for political and military progress, according to a draft of a Government Accountability Office report. The document questions whether some aspects of a more positive assessment by the White House last month adequately reflected the range of views the GAO found within the administration.

The strikingly negative GAO draft, which will be delivered to Congress in final form on Tuesday, comes as the White House prepares to deliver its own new benchmark report in the second week of September, along with congressional testimony from Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker. They are expected to describe significant security improvements and offer at least some promise for political reconciliation in Iraq.

The draft provides a stark assessment of the tactical effects of the current U.S.-led counteroffensive to secure Baghdad. "While the Baghdad security plan was intended to reduce sectarian violence, U.S. agencies differ on whether such violence has been reduced," it states. While there have been fewer attacks against U.S. forces, it notes, the number of attacks against Iraqi civilians remains unchanged. It also finds that "the capabilities of Iraqi security forces have not improved."

"Overall," the report concludes, "key legislation has not been passed, violence remains high, and it is unclear whether the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion in reconstruction funds," as promised. While it makes no policy recommendations, the draft suggests that future administration assessments "would be more useful" if they backed up their judgments with more details and "provided data on broader measures of violence from all relevant U.S. agencies.""

Here's a graphic comparing the GAO and the administration's views on which benchmarks have been met. The three that both agree have been met include: "Establishing supporting political, media, and economic committees in support of the Baghdad security plan", "Establishing all planned joint security stations in neighborhoods across Baghdad", and "Ensuring the rights of minority political parties in the Iraqi legislature are protected." Two more are graded "mixed" -- "Enacting and implementing legislation on procedures to form semi-autonomous regions" and "Allocating and spending $10 billion in Iraqi revenue for reconstruction projects including delivery of essential services, on an equitable basis." The GAO finds that progress on all the rest has been unsatisfactory. "The rest" includes de-Baathification, amending the Constitution, the petroleum law, decreasing violence, training the Iraqi army, disarming militias, establishing electoral laws and so forth -- little things like that.

But hey: at least we've formed some committees!

I found this bit particularly interesting:

"The person who provided the draft report to The Post said it was being conveyed from a government official who feared that its pessimistic conclusions would be watered down in the final version -- as some officials have said happened with security judgments in this month's National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq."

And the GAO is clearly right on this point: "future administration assessments "would be more useful" if they backed up their judgments with more details and "provided data on broader measures of violence from all relevant U.S. agencies." If the administration wants to ask the American people to go on supporting a policy that seems to have failed, they owe us a detailed explanation of why they think that support would do more than postpone the inevitable.

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